It all started with a need to replace my Rotel 855 CD player
The changes started in 2011 and a suggestion to get rid of the CD player and do Computer Audio and iTunes
I’ve, officially changed every component with addition of Revel Studio2 Speakers 

Lastly, Just added a full LP analog playback system
Every incremental change resulted in a noticeable sound improvement...

I’ve “ eaten” a lot of words over the years.
The first eaten words;  “Cables don’t make a difference”

Wow, Speakers make a big difference

Room Details

Dimensions: 34’ × 14’  Large
Ceiling: 11’

Components Toggle details

    • Revel Ultima2 Studio
    Full range 3 way
    • Pass Labs XA-30.5
    New Class A from Class D Peachtree 220
    • Conrad Johnson ET3
    Tubed Preamp
    Highly Detailed with great sound-staging
    Freely flowing musicality
    • Pro-Ject Audio Classic Turntable
    With Hana SL MC cartridge
    • Hana SL MC cartridge
    Moving Coil Cartridge
    • Musical Surroundings Phenomena II+
    Solid state Phono Preamplifier
    • Chord Electronics Ltd. Qutest
    DSD/PCM Dac

    Running Roon DSD 2X upsampling with Long Filter into Chord
    • Matsushita/National 7dj8
    6922 style valve
    • Velodyne F-1500R Subwoofer
    15" sub with remote
    • Sony DVP-NS55p
    CD transport only,Digital coax to Peachtree ESS Sabre DAC
    • Onkyo T-25 tuner
    Quartz FM High Resolution Tuner
    • Roon Labs Audio Player Software
    Playback software with upsampling, filters , DSP
    • Mac Mini Mini with optical drive
    80GB hard drive with optical CD
    • Grado SR80i Headphones
    Dynamic Open-Air Headphones
    • Hifi Man HE-400 Headphones
    Planar Magnetic Headphones
    • Mapleshade USB cable Mapleshade Clearlink Plus USB cable
    Upgraded USB cable from Mac mini to Preamp
    • Kimber Kable Interconnect and Speaker Cable
    Upgraded to Kimber Hero IC & Kimber Monocle XL from 4TC speaker cable and Mogami IC
    • Transparent Audio Plus
    Interconnect from DAC to Preamp
    • Cardas Audio Parsec Interconnect-RCA
    • VH Audio Power upgrades
    Upgraded to VH audio "Hot Box" and Furman Outlets in Gold
    • Playback Designs Merlot DSD dac
    Trial at home for DSD dac

Comments 37


See the response below to Joe marsh 
The tubes make a big difference in the CJ 

The new CH sound is more modern , not syrupy like the old models were to have sounded ( never heard them ) cj16/17 etc 



Lots of wonderful stuff going on here.

How do you like the Conrod Johnson tube preamp impact to the sound of your home theater system?


Belated congratulations on the upgrades in the last few years. I'd bet that setup and all our gear choices sound great together!

Ag insider logo xs@2xzephyr24069


Sorry for late return message 
Pass and CJ use single ended IC cables
Pass pre and pass amp was very detailed 
The CJ tubed pre and my predominant music of rock era “ took the edge “ off crappy recordings and really was best of both worlds : tube & SS 

The stock CJ tube was sharp and detailed . I change to a Mitsubishi 7dj8 and the lush English gentleman sound  of preamps was presented 

The 25 db of gain vs  most other 8 db gives you a lot of flexibility with sound levels with the lower powered xa30.5 



Interested in your thoughts on any synergy between Pass Labs and a CJ preamp? Unless I score a Premier 350, I'd probably look at a Pass Labs amp. On the other hand, I could be tempted by some CJ tubes....



Happy New Year! Jeff

drop by the Thiel Owners thread every now and then. Your system looks great.

Happy Listening!



Some thoughts for " mulling"
I heard Thiels with Mac 452's & Ayre amps
The highs were superb & I spent 4-5 years chasing the sound & finally got to SS Pass Labs & Tube preamp as end product.
Anyway, I've listened to a bunch of highly resolving speakers & the Mac's tamed the highs, always 
Something about the transformer outputs?
But, not much bass as to Bryston/Pass etc

Anyway, There "new sound" is something you should try to listen with Thiels

Room stuff is good start ( start by hanging blankets at reflection points and see what you hear).  It looks ugly, but works for " prove it to me" type of thing

Good $$$ going forward.  Lol



FR - I guess I am following in your footsteps, my plan was to do what's needed to make the Thiel's sound really good, then go from there in terms of other speakers, additional sources, etc.  Interesting that low level listening is even better, that's one of my favorite things about the Thiels.  Enjoy!



I spent a lot of time with adjustments in electronics, cables, power to tame the Thiel uber resolution. I found Thiels very persnickety of upstream components for them to sound best.
I thought there highs were spectacular, after the right stuff was inserted
I made the change due to the lack of fullness in the lower ranges.
My goodness, I thought the Revels were so-so when listening at Axpona, etc
Amps make a huge difference for Revels in the low end. ML, so so on bass, but pass was different animal.   Very full, like adding another couple woofers

Anyway, by taming the Thiels and then inserting the revels, I was pleasantly surprised how delicate the be tweeters are.
Delicate, resolving, lots of soundstage & more details to be heard.
The low level listening is great, greater than Thiels which excelled at it

I'm very happy


Sorry to see the Thiels go but will be putting the Revels on my list of speakers to listen to if/when I consider a possible post-Thiel future.  How do the highs compare?


I just upgraded from Thiel to the Revel Ultima2 Studio.
I have been very impressed by the " delicacy" of the Revel Be tweeter and the ultra large sweet spot & soundstage

The size of sweet spot & soundstage goes against logic. Thiel with the coaxial speaker should have been a bigger and larger soundstage.



how do you like the CJ and Pass Labs combo?
Happy Listening!



how is the ET-3 settling into your system?
Happy Listening!



Very nice! Jeff,

agreed- the CJ can take time to break -in, it is well worth it.

Best of all, Bill Thalmann can repair/mod your pre-amp to taste.

Happy Listening!


Hello Jeff
i think your Pass Labs Xa 30.5 might need more ventilation. at least 6 inches above , sides and behind.  Having not heard Thiels but heard only good about them I guess you are happy. was it painful getting the subwoofer to integrate?


Jeff,...I like this system alot; very well thought out combination of components, many of which I've heard at various points that sound great together.  I can appreciate your love of Thiel speakers over other options including planar (despite all their positive attributes); the first great imaging and very coherent speaker I ever heard was around 1990-1991 in Cincinnati at a place called Audible Elegance in Montgomery. Thiel 1.2 and 1.1s impressed with the overall imaging, separation and (for the times) impressive 3D presentation of music. They were playing Patrick O'Hearn's "Eldoradoo", "Between Two Worlds", possibly "Indigo" and at least one Thomas Dolby disc in rotation; I remember being impressed and wanting the system they had put together.  

Enjoy your system,....thank for the comments on my system thread as well!

Ag insider logo xs@2xzephyr24069

Wow Jeff. You've carefully put together really nice component mix and sound.
Glad to know you are enjoying your rig... and 80's "crap"!😜


Updated components

Added Conrad Johnson ET3 and finally, detailed smooth musical sound is found

The last bit of hardness, stridency on 80's " crap" recording quality is gone.  My full library of music is listenable/ enjoyable

Tube rolling to Amprex & time of break-in completed the changes 


An update- Jeff?



Did not a/b, but read & read
Listened to bryston cubed, my audio buddies have tubes and as amps to listen to,and my class d ice map
Then pulled trigger

You cannot go wrong with Pass!



It gets warm in cabinet
I cutout back and there is space by front face plate
The air comes in from back and rises up as it warms, just like a chimney
You can feel it rise in front of tv

Steady state is 130 f or so
Heat not an issue, even a tight fit like mine


Nice pics! Jeff
you have an excellent looking system my friend.  Consider a Thiel SmartSub for your SCS4T speakers.


Very nice system! I am thinking of replacing my Classe 100wpc amp with a Pass X150.8 or a X250.8 and would be placing it in a cabinet. I am a little concerned about heat. I'm guessing the X series runs a little cooler than the XA series but not sure. Does your amp get hot in your cab? Also did you addition any A/B amps from Pass before deciding on your XA30.5? Thanks, Ron


tight fit on the PassLabs. Beautiful rig


I just got a Pass X150.5 again.  Amazing - my Thiels are very happy again.


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